Being new in freelancing is almost the same as having a new job. Except it's completely different and more complex.
Jokes aside. While we have plenty of respect for employees, the freelancing game comes with a variety of activities that needs to be mastered if you want to succeed and find your spot on the market.
It's true that fails are a great teacher but nonetheless, there are a couple of mistakes that can be avoided from the very beginning of your freelancing career. Some of them are more painful than others, but here are some common mistakes that newbie freelancers make and you should definitely keep them on the top of your mind.
Your specialization is your service. It's something you as a freelancer will provide value through, so you should be damn sure, that you love doing it and that you can really do it well.
Many freelancers leave their choice of specialization in the hands of coincidence. Or they see some work of an experienced expert, they like it, and think they can do it on the same level a week from now.
That's how sad and unfulfilled freelancers are created. Your specialization should be a combination of loving the process and being good at it. Your ability to soak in information and learn efficiently is also welcome. But if you decide on your freelancing focus based on a few minor signals or work of others, you're not going to be satisfied in the long-term.
You first need to like and then start doing it because you love it.
As a newbie, you will hear a lot of opinions on working for free. Now the first thing you need to understand is that nothing is for free. And this works both ways.
If you get something for free, you actually pay for it some other way. You just might not know it.
And if you do some work for free as a beginning freelancer, you can get at least a testimonial. Which not only builds your portfolio but also works as an awesome social proof for your future clients. In other words, work for free = testimonials = great portfolio = it's easier to close new clients.
So if you ask us, work for free is great if it makes sense.
Sometimes, it takes a long time for a freelancer to understand this but providing a quality work is merely enough. The main reason why clients come back is… YOU!
Surprising? Yes, for many.
If you provide good results, clients like you a lot. But if you're a true professional that provides an awesome experience from the first impression to sending the invoice, clients will love you.
This means you can handle critical situations like a boss, you can negotiate with the client, you can give your opinion with respect, and you can warn the client when it's right.
Provide such an experience and don't rely on the service itself and clients will love you.
It's great to get paid. But it's better to be paid a fair price.
Pricing is a long process for a freelancer. It's a skill like any other and you just need to learn how to master it. Honestly, it's pretty hard to learn your price. Of course, there are shortcuts.
If you want to learn your price, the first thing you can do is to start with your costs of living and your expertise.
How much do you need to earn to survive? You don't need a luxurious car and a huge office to survive. You need food and a place to stay. Later in your career, you can start thinking about other benefits.
The next question is, how experienced are you? If you're a newbie, you can't earn the expert-kind-of-money. But on the other hand, you can look for other freelancers on your level and see how much do they earn.
See? Learning your price is not super hard. It's just a matter of experience and time.
When you're new in freelancing, it happens that you need to take jobs that don't bring so much satisfaction, joy or money to you. It's the way it is and as a beginner, you need to start from somewhere and be thankful for these gigs as well.
But as you get more experienced with your clients and you learn what types of jobs are ideal for you, you should create a persona for your ideal client.
Basic information is enough. You should know at least what industries interest you the most, how big are the clients you love to work with and what customer segment they provide their services to.
Once you understand this, it will become easier for you to see which client is the right one and which should be avoided.
As you get more experienced, you will understand that the only real currency you have is your time. That means you must manage it well to make the most of it.
Make sure you plan and manage your calendar well so that you meet your potential. A day will always have only 24-hours and it will be never more, it's up to you decide what to do with it.
If you earn some extra cash, invest it back to optimize and innovate your business. Sometimes it can mean buying a new software or sometimes you can buy a workshop from an experienced professional.
It's important to understand from the beginning that your business will only take care of you if you care for it too. Putting all the extra money back into freelancing pays off in the long-term, which is something you should always aim for.
Don't look for huge investments, improvement is rooted in smaller and continual investing.
Freelancing is a long-term career choice. It's the same as building a company. There's no overnight success. That's why the last tip is to give yourself some space to breathe and make mistakes. Make sure they're not fatal and always learn from them.
Other than that, it's all in your hands to shape your freelancing business the way you want to have it.